Friday, December 13, 2013

Using Disqus for comments? I won't be commenting.

If you're using Disqus for comments, I won't be commenting on your site. I have just spent 15 minutes with Chrome trying to post a comment to no avail. If I go to the Disqus site, it says I'm signed in, but if I go back to the CNNMoney Apple 2.0 page I was on, there is no way to post a comment. I'm "disqusted" and I give up; it should be easier than this. Beware of Friday the 13th!

I have third-party cookies blocked. If you need a third party cookie to do your work, you're not doing it right.

Ironically, I was signed in and fine until I received an email from Disqus that someone had posted a response to my message. That email message apparently signed me out of Disqus and I haven't been able to post a witty response since.

Update June 6, 2014: I am back to using Disqus again. I need to sign in before writing my comment as the act of signing in deletes everything I've typed so far. I still don't allow third-party cookies and I can usually get signed in to Disqus now.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time Warner Cable DVR fail

I watched "The Making of Sound of Music Live" on NBC tonight. The "live" part is the broadcast is going to be at 8 Eastern/7 Central on Thursday, Dec. 5; the "making of" part was prerecorded. So I'm thinking, "I should set that to record on the Time Warner Cable DVR." Wrong. This DVR will only allow scheduling recordings six days in advance, or Tuesday, Dec. 3 as of today. Time Warner Cable DVR fail!

How many people are going to miss the broadcast of "The Sound of Music Live" because they forget to schedule the DVR recording after the show finally shows up on the schedule?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Composting 2013

The good news: Composting kitchen waste is going well. The bad news: Composting yard waste just takes too long, especially for the gum balls. We have a sweet gum tree which produces a lot of gum balls every year and they take several years to break down.


What you're seeing in this picture, from left to right: A pile of leaves from this year which I will probably use to cover the gum balls with. Next is a composting bin we bought from Lowe's (but I don't think they sell them any more). The composting bin contains yard waste but it's mostly gum balls and soil at this point as the leaves and branches have broken down. There is a pile of gum balls between the composting bins. These aren't even this year's crop yet but from previous years. Like I said, it takes at least four years for them to decompose. The compost bin to the right is an Earth Machine that we bought from the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District several years ago. Finally, there are two bags mostly containing branches ready to go to the community compost pile.

I live in the City of Norwood, Ohio and homeowners receive 10 composting bags "free" from the city. The two bags you see here are the final two of this year's allotment, meaning that eight bags have gone out for composting already. So, in my small yard, I can only handle a limited amount of yard waste.

I have thought about getting a chipper/shredder but I'm wary of using energy for this process. It would have to be electric (not easy to find) as my wife and I have given up on gasoline-powered yard equipment.

Note: This is update from a post from October 2012, "Clearing the peony bed."

Monday, November 4, 2013

If you're rich and famous, you should read Brian Krebs' blog post

Brian Krebs has found that a hacker break-in at a company that provides software for the limousine and ground transportation industry has exposed (in plain text!) the names, addresses and credit card numbers of 850,000 people that use limousines and town cars. If you're possibly one of the 850,000 rich and famous people (examples: LeBron James, Tom Hanks and Donald Trump) you should read this blog post.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Drone strikes in the United States?


This posting is prompted by the news story about the Pakistani Taliban leader killed by a drone strike

I'm waiting for drone strikes to come to the United States. You're sitting in a restaurant and notice three guys walking across the parking lot. Then, out of the blue, there's a flash and a boom and ... they're just gone! (Along with two cars — collateral damage.) You find out later that one was a serial killer and the other two were his brother and a friend. How convenient for the authorities! No trial, no appeals, no death row; just flash, boom and "Can you identify these body parts, ma'am?" You say it can't happen here and mumble something about the Constitution. Are you sure?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!®" was taped in Cincinnati

My wife and I attended the taping of this week's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!®" and now we've listened to the broadcast. The whole risque sequence on morning missiles is gone! So is Mo Rocca's claim that Cincinnati's Music Hall is the largest concert hall in North America (false, the DAR Constitution Hall is larger although it doesn't have a resident orchestra). Skyline Chili (two references) also got dropped; I guess if you're not a sponsor, you don't get mentioned. (Keep in mind that Skyline Chili is only one of several chains and restaurants serving Cincinnati-style chili.)

It took almost two hours to tape the show but only about 40 minutes was broadcast, when you take out the unnecessary news from the broadcast and the additional "promotions" (not commercials; public radio doesn't have commercials) beyond the sponsors of the show itself. I'm glad we went to the taping and will do it again when it comes back to Cincinnati; too much gets lost in the broadcast.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Regarding the healthcare.gov mess...


Regarding the healthcare.gov mess: The "best and brightest" avoid government contracts like the plague. It's all too political and bidding is sometimes all about getting the lowest price, to hell with quality. That's one reason the military ends up with counterfeit components, which endanger the lives of the men and women in uniform. In the specific case of healthcare.gov, I suspect sabotage, either on the inside or on the outside.

BuzzFeed has an interesting article in which it claims that the contractor who built healthcare.gov (CGI Federal) is a big Republican supporter. I link to this to reinforce that the whole bidding and completion process is rife with politics.

Rusty Foster, a writer and computer programmer, wrote a more detailed analysis of the problems in an article in the New Yorker, "Healthcare.gov: It could be worse." National Public Radio interviewed him; a transcript is not yet available but you can listen to the interview which is rather informative. The interview and article pointed out that over 55 government contractors were involved with the site; any soup made by 55 cooks would be inedible.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Same-sex marriage coming to New Jersey

Here's some unanimous common sense from the N.J. Supreme Court. Money quote: "Civil-union partners in New Jersey today do not receive the same benefits as married same-sex couples when it comes to family and medical leave, Medicare, tax and immigration matters, military and veterans’ affairs, and other areas," Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote. "The state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection is therefore not being met." (My original source is the The [New Jersey] Star-Ledger)


Eventually, same-sex marriage will be the law in all states and then smoking marijuana will be legalized. I didn't ever think the Berlin Wall would be torn down in my lifetime, but it was. These are the latest walls that will fall.

The most opposition to same-sex marriage seems to come from the religious-right Christians. One reference says that the principle purpose of marriage is procreation; however, there are no laws requiring that a man and wife be capable of bearing children as a condition of marriage. There are laws prohibiting first cousins from marrying but not in all states; there has been some rethinking of that lately. I find it ironic that many religious-right Christians are opposed to same-sex marriages but that polygamy is allowed to flourish in the West. Since all people are made in God's image, that includes LGBT people as well. If homosexuality is a sin to God, why does God create lesbians and gays in the first place?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Milestone for today: Over 2,000 page views

My milestone for today: This blog has now had over 2,000 page views.

No, it's not just me admiring my posts; I set a cookie in my browsers that keep most of my views from counting.

Tide®-brand detergent in five-gallon buckets? Not a chance!

This post has proven to be popular with over 36,000 55,000 page views. To read the original post, scroll down to "Original post:" I'm putting updates here at the top so that they get noticed.

Update July 16, 2016: Another fundraising company has posted a comment, Profitable Solutions Fundraising. This company, like the others, is selling detergent in five-gallon buckets for fundraising but is not misrepresenting it as Tide. You can contact them by filling out a form on their "Contact Us" page.

Updates September 27, 2015: There is another company offering liquid detergent in five-gallon buckets for fundraising, Sudz Fundraising. There is a "Contact Us" form on their web site as well as a live chat option. You can also contact them through email or by calling them at 765-598-5521.

Tonight, I received an email from a person who prefers to remain anonymous. She wrote, "I saw a post on fb of a store nearby that claims they sell actual Tide in the five gallon buckets. We did a little research and found your blog. I wanted to send you these screen shots. I also made a post on the page questioning the authenticity of the product. I will try and go back through the blog and send to P&G as well. I don't care they sell detergent but they shouldn't claim it is a product that it isn't. Thank you for your blog!" The first image is a picture which she sent, cropped to remove some identifying information. The second picture is my response to Jake's Place Wholesale on Facebook:




The comment she made on this Facebook post has been deleted but mine remains for now. I'm glad she read this blog post because now, if she decides to buy this detergent, she will know that it is not a genuine Procter & Gamble product. It may be excellent or it may be not so good (see comments for more information). But it won't be genuine.

Update April 12, 2015: Selling liquid detergent in five-gallon buckets has proven to be an excellent fundraiser for various organizations, especially high-school sports teams. However, the manufacturers producing detergent for these fundraisers do not claim that they are selling the real thing but are selling alternate products that they are trying to make as good as the real thing. When you read this post, please keep this in mind; not all liquid detergent in five-gallon buckets is counterfeit.

One of the companies selling detergent for fundraising is Good Clean Fundraising (www.GoodCleanFundraising.com or 800-680-3775). For more information about this company, click on the links or look for more information from Michael A. Fitzgerald near the bottom of the comments (March 13, 2015). I can't directly endorse this company but I haven't seen any negative reports about it, either.

I will check for other companies doing this (if there are any other companies) and post an update for those who want to pursue this as a fundraising opportunity. Full disclosure: Mr. Fitzgerald did not offer to make nor would I accept any payment for adding this update. I do not operate that way.

[Some other minor changes were made with this update.]

Update March 3, 2015: A commenter has found Tide (powdered, not liquid) in five-gallon buckets imported from Vietnam being sold in Houston. Look for a link in a comment near the bottom. It's getting interesting!

Update December 25, 2014: Procter & Gamble has done a good job stopping the counterfeits. Don't try selling generic detergent as the real Tide®-brand detergent. It won't work. An alert reader noticed (see a comment from Sept. 12, 2014) that P&G sells industrial powdered Tide in five-gallon buckets but you would be shocked at the price. I will update this post when I get a price from a distributor.

Original post:
Back in April 2013, I overheard some people talking about getting Tide® in five-gallon buckets as part of a school fundraiser. I was skeptical, did some research and notified Procter & Gamble, the manufacturers of Tide, of people selling what was supposed to be Tide this way. Here is their response (emphasis added):

from: "P&G Tide" <address omitted>
to: "bruce.hobbs@gmail.com" <bruce.hobbs@gmail.com>
date: Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 9:01 AM
subject: Thank you for contacting Tide


Thank you for contacting Tide, Bruce.



You are correct that Tide does not offer our detergents in 5 gallon buckets. 



I will pass your email on to the proper department within P&G.  As a thank you for letting us know of this I will be happy to send you a money saving coupon for a tide product by postal mail.  Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.



Thanks for writing.



Jim

Tide Team

Well, I thought that the brand-marketing whizzes at P&G would put an end to this real fast. They sure did. Here it is six months later and I could only find one half-way decent attempt at selling Tide in five-gallon orange(!) buckets and I bet they're off of Facebook within a day of this being posted.

I tip my hat to you, Procter & Gamble, for preserving your excellent brand of detergent.

I did a Google search today and here's what I found: (Top five relevant results shown and, yes, I broke the links. Do your own search!)

5 gallon bucket tide | eBay

This link did produce eBay listings, but they were for laundry detergent "Comparable Tide" [sic]. No fake, official-looking Tide labels on any of the buckets.


Wholesale Laundry Soap | Facebook

This appears to be the real counterfeit deal (in an orange bucket!) complete with a fake label. P&G, time to go after this one. Who would think that Facebook would allow counterfeit merchandise to be sold?








Tide liquid laundry detergent 5 gallon buckets - Arizona Classifieds

This has a gray bucket with a Tide label. Arizona Classifieds had a place to complain so I did.

Tide® Professional Closed-Loop Laundry Detergent, 5 gal Bucket ...

This one shows a picture of a box of Gain and the price is $0.00. Doesn't look like it's even in business.

Tide Formula 5 Gallon Pail Liquid Laundry Soap - $25.00 - TradeKey

Wow, they have 1,800 five-gallon buckets for sale of "Tide Formula Laundry Soap." You can deal directly with a counterfeiter. The picture is too fuzzy to see if the label is counterfeit. I bet the formula for Tide is almost as secret as the one for Coca-Cola®.


So, to wrap this up, I'm happy that P&G listened to me* and cleaned this up (pun intended). If anyone offers you a five-gallon bucket of Tide, you now know it's a scam.

* Obviously, there is no way for me to know if my tip was the one that caused these scams to be fixed. I will keep making suggestions anyway.

Update Oct. 11, 2015:

Here's the comment I posted on Liquidation Station, Nashville, Tennesee's Facebook page: "If this is powdered, it's likely real Tide imported from Vietnam (note the CHUYÊN DUNG in the middle of the label). If it's liquid detergent, it's likely counterfeit (not Tide at all). I wrote a blog post about this." A tip of the hat to Angela for alerting me to this. The comment she submitted is below. Follow up: My comment has been deleted, but so has the post and the image. (That's why I took a screen shot.)


Tide®-brand detergent in five-gallon buckets? Not a chance!

This post has proven to be popular with over 36,000 58,000 page views. To read the original post, scroll down to "Original post:" I'm putting updates here at the top so that they get noticed.

Update April 12, 2015: Selling liquid detergent in five-gallon buckets has proven to be an excellent fundraiser for various organizations, especially high-school sports teams. However, the manufacturers producing detergent for these fundraisers do not claim that they are selling the real thing but are selling alternate products that they are trying to make as good as the real thing. When you read this post, please keep this in mind: Not all liquid detergent in five-gallon buckets is counterfeit.

One of the companies selling detergent for fundraising is Good Clean Fundraising (www.GoodCleanFundraising.com or 800-680-3775). For more information about this company, click on the links or look for more information from Michael A. Fitzgerald near the bottom of the comments (March 13, 2015). I can't directly endorse this company but I haven't seen any negative reports about it, either.

I will check for other companies doing this (if there are any other companies) and post an update for those who want to pursue this as a fundraising opportunity. Full disclosure: Mr. Fitzgerald did not offer to make nor would I accept any payment for adding this update. I do not operate that way.

Update July 16, 2016: Another fundraising company has sent a comment, Profitable Solutions Fundraising. This company, like the others, is selling detergent in five-gallon buckets for fundraising but is not misrepresenting it. You can contact them by filling out a form on their "Contact Us" page.

Update September 27, 2015: There is another company offering liquid detergent in five-gallon buckets for fundraising, Sudz Fundraising. There is a "Contact Us" form on their web site as well as a live chat option. You can also contact them through email or by calling them at 765-598-5521.

Update November 6, 2016: I just received word of another company selling liquid detergent for fundraising, Soapy Joe's Fundraising/GMACK Fundraising. You can reach them by email, with this contact-us form or by calling their office at 765-356-4259.

Update September 27, 2015: Tonight, I received an email from a person who prefers to remain anonymous. She wrote, "I saw a post on fb of a store nearby that claims they sell actual Tide in the five gallon buckets. We did a little research and found your blog. I wanted to send you these screen shots. I also made a post on the page questioning the authenticity of the product. I will try and go back through the blog and send to P&G as well. I don't care they sell detergent but they shouldn't claim it is a product that it isn't. Thank you for your blog!" The first image is a picture which she sent, cropped to remove some identifying information. The second picture is my response to Jake's Place Wholesale on Facebook:




The comment she made on this Facebook post has been deleted but mine remains for now. I'm glad she read this blog post because now, if she decides to buy this detergent, she will know that it is not a genuine Procter & Gamble product. It may be excellent or it may be not so good (see comments for more information). But it won't be genuine.

Update March 3, 2015: A commenter has found Tide (powdered, not liquid) in five-gallon buckets imported from Vietnam being sold in Houston. Look for a link in a comment near the bottom. It's getting interesting!

Update December 25, 2014: Procter & Gamble has done a good job stopping the counterfeits. Don't try selling generic detergent as the real Tide®-brand detergent. It won't work. An alert reader noticed (see a comment from Sept. 12, 2014) that P&G sells industrial powdered Tide in five-gallon buckets but you would be shocked at the price. I will update this post when I get a price from a distributor.

Original post:
Back in April 2013, I overheard some people talking about getting Tide® in five-gallon buckets as part of a school fundraiser. I was skeptical, did some research and notified Procter & Gamble, the manufacturers of Tide, of people selling what was supposed to be Tide this way. Here is their response (emphasis added):

from: "P&G Tide" <address omitted>
to: "bruce.hobbs@gmail.com" <bruce.hobbs@gmail.com>
date: Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 9:01 AM
subject: Thank you for contacting Tide


Thank you for contacting Tide, Bruce.



You are correct that Tide does not offer our detergents in 5 gallon buckets. 



I will pass your email on to the proper department within P&G.  As a thank you for letting us know of this I will be happy to send you a money saving coupon for a tide product by postal mail.  Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.



Thanks for writing.



Jim

Tide Team

Well, I thought that the brand-marketing whizzes at P&G would put an end to this real fast. They sure did. Here it is six months later and I could only find one half-way decent attempt at selling Tide in five-gallon orange(!) buckets and I bet they're off of Facebook within a day of this being posted.

I tip my hat to you, Procter & Gamble, for preserving your excellent brand of detergent.

I did a Google search today and here's what I found: (Top five relevant results shown and, yes, I broke the links. Do your own search!)

5 gallon bucket tide | eBay

This link did produce eBay listings, but they were for laundry detergent "Comparable Tide" [sic]. No fake, official-looking Tide labels on any of the buckets.


Wholesale Laundry Soap | Facebook

This appears to be the real counterfeit deal (in an orange bucket!) complete with a fake label. P&G, time to go after this one. Who would think that Facebook would allow counterfeit merchandise to be sold?








Tide liquid laundry detergent 5 gallon buckets - Arizona Classifieds

This has a gray bucket with a Tide label. Arizona Classifieds had a place to complain so I did.

Tide® Professional Closed-Loop Laundry Detergent, 5 gal Bucket ...

This one shows a picture of a box of Gain and the price is $0.00. Doesn't look like it's even in business.

Tide Formula 5 Gallon Pail Liquid Laundry Soap - $25.00 - TradeKey

Wow, they have 1,800 five-gallon buckets for sale of "Tide Formula Laundry Soap." You can deal directly with a counterfeiter. The picture is too fuzzy to see if the label is counterfeit. I bet the formula for Tide is almost as secret as the one for Coca-Cola®.


So, to wrap this up, I'm happy that P&G listened to me* and cleaned this up (pun intended). If anyone offers you a five-gallon bucket of Tide, you now know it's a scam.

* Obviously, there is no way for me to know if my tip was the one that caused these scams to be fixed. I will keep making suggestions anyway.

Update Oct. 11, 2015:

Here's the comment I posted on Liquidation Station, Nashville, Tennesee's Facebook page: "If this is powdered, it's likely real Tide imported from Vietnam (note the CHUYÊN DUNG in the middle of the label). If it's liquid detergent, it's likely counterfeit (not Tide at all). I wrote a blog post about this." A tip of the hat to Angela for alerting me to this. The comment she submitted is below. Follow up: My comment has been deleted, but so has the post and the image. (That's why I took a screen shot.)


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The people suing LinkedIn don't understand

Update October 4, 2015: If you added a LinkedIn connection between September 17, 2011 and October 31, 2014, you should have received an email titled "LEGAL NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION." The deadline to submit a claim for this class-action lawsuit is December 14, 2015. I'm not authorized to include any more information about this; if you feel you should have received the legal notice and didn't, please contact LinkedIn directly.

An interesting note on the post below: LinkedIn is still asking me to connect to people using email addresses that were discontinued over 10 years ago. This shows you that, once an email address is in LinkedIn's system, they will retain it forever. I will be looking for a feature to remove all the stale email addresses and upload new ones.

Note September 15, 2014: There is new information about LinkedIn. This post needs to be replaced. Stay tuned. Brian Krebs describes a possible hack of LinkedIn, "LinkedIn Feature Exposes Email Addresses."

Original post:
According to an article in The Verge, LinkedIn has been accused of hacking users' email accounts. I think I know what's going on and why the plaintiffs don't understand what's happening.

Let's look at two people: a fictional John Doe (john.doe@example.com) and me (bruce.hobbs@gmail.com). John Doe is one of the plaintiffs in the the lawsuit; he claims his email account was hacked. Not at all. Here's what I think happened:

1. When I signed up with LinkedIn, I gave them one-time access to my Gmail contacts. I did this by changing my Gmail password, letting LinkedIn harvest my contacts, then changed my Gmail password again. This guaranteed that LinkedIn only had one-time access to my email contacts.

2. Let's say John Doe was in my contact list under john.doe@example.com. At that time, John Doe was not a member of LinkedIn. LinkedIn doesn't contact him, it just files his email address away linked to my email address. I gave LinkedIn permission to do this.

3. Several years pass and John Doe joins LinkedIn using the email address john.doe@example.com. Guess what? LinkedIn goes through their database and sees the connection between John Doe and me. So I get an email message saying that John Doe has joined LinkedIn. Would I like to send him a connection request?

4. John hears about this and thinks, "Oh my God, they've hacked my email account!" I think it's exactly the other way around: John's friends gave LinkedIn his address and there was no hacking involved.

Is there validity in the lawsuit? I'm not an attorney but I don't think so. I might suggest that LinkedIn only keep the email addresses they receive (see step 1) that don't match current LinkedIn subscribers for a year and then discard them.

Update June 6, 2014: LinkedIn filed a motion in December to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the new user (John Doe in my example) consented to sending invitation requests to other members of LinkedIn. Click here for the Bloomberg story.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beaumont Bomber gets no love from hometown newspaper

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds hit a grand-slam home run at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Did his hometown newspaper, the Beaumont Enterprise, even mention that he's from Beaumont? Nope, not a word. They just ran the Associated Press story of the game with no apparent additions. Sorry, Jay.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Micro USB 3.0 connector: Is this a joke?

Compare the new micro USB 3.0 connector with the Apple Lightning connector for USB 3.0. Who designed the micro USB connector? Is this a joke? Are they sure they want to make a connector that's going to be almost impossible to use in the dark?

Apple Lighting to USB 2.0 cable
The USB 3.0 cable is expected
to look the same.
Piranah USB 3.0 micro to USB 3.0 cable
Micro USB 3.0 from end



Friday, September 6, 2013

Ace Hardware advertising fail!

This popped into my email inbox at 2:12 p.m. EDT today:


The other fail: I prefer everyday low prices to silly sales.

Power of attorney

So I'm talking to a nice lady at FIA Card Services, connected to the Bank of America, about a matter involving a power of attorney.

"The power of attorney you mailed to us is incomplete," she said. "It must be signed by an attorney and notarized."

Of course, she could not actually see the power of attorney that I had mailed. I had sent them a copy, eight pages long, printed on both sides of the paper. I suspect that they scanned in one side and not the other, omitting half of the form.

"What should I do?" I asked. "We need an original copy of the power of attorney. No copies," she replied.

I thought to myself, "I have two original copies but I am sure not sending one to her."

"Okay," I said to her, avoiding being confrontational. And then the punchline: "And when you have obtained an original copy of the power of attorney, signed and notarized, please fax it to us."

Footnote: The conversation is approximately correct based on my recollection. She has a recording of it but I don't.

Update Nov. 18: I tried to fax the power of attorney to FIA Card Services five times over two days. No dice; the fax machine would not answer the phone.


For the third try to get them a power of attorney, I mailed the power of attorney by Priority® Mail which now includes tracking. Tonight, I checked the tracking and found that the address that they had given me was for a P.O. Box that was closed with no forwarding address. Here it is, returned to me!

So I called FIA Card Services and they gave me another P.O. Box address, this time in El Paso, Texas. Will that work? Will they finally be able to talk to me? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Short takes #1


Google really screwed things up today. They announced that the next version of Android would be "KitKat". Now, you may have heard of Kit Kat the candy bar and that is not a coincidence; Google licensed the name from Nestlé. Is there a problem with correctly putting a space in the name, Google? It wasn't a problem with the name of the current version, "Jelly Bean". So what's the big deal? If you're a programmer, as I am, you pay attention to spaces. A misplaced space can cause a serious bug in a program. I guess the marketing people at Google didn't consult with the programming staff.

--------------------

"NO VIDEO OR STILL PHOTOGRAPHY"
Don't want me to eat at your restaurant? Just tell me not to take pictures of my food. I turned around and left. What are you trying to hide, BK?

Taken at about 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 4 at

7782 Dudley Drive
West Chester, OH 45069-2400
(513) 777-8323






--------------------

Are you running a regional commercial on Time Warner Cable in Cincinnati? Then don't put anything important in the last second of your commercial. When TWC switches to their own commercials, they don't get the timing correct and always cut off the last second of the regional commercial.

I just saw a commercial for Jack Link's Beef Jerky on Fox Sports Ohio. Jack Link's tag line is "Feed Your Wild Side." TWC cut it off after "Feed." Of course, when they switch the signal back to the regional source, they show the last second of the last regional commercial, which is awkward the other way.

One caveat: I'm watching in standard definition, which may have different switching than high definition channels do.

--------------------


Drug addicts: Don't even think of stealing this plumbing for scrap.
Yes, we know you know how to turn off the water to keep it
from making a mess when you steal it.

--------------------

PC Magazine apparently doesn't understand the concept of the International Date Line. This is the lede on an article today"Apple will host a product event in China on Sept. 11, the day after a similarly themed gathering at the company's Cupertino, Calif. campus..." (italics added for emphasis). Ah, PC Magazine, when it's 10 a.m. on Sept. 10 in California, it's 1 a.m. on Sept. 11 in China so, in my world, it's really the same day. They do concede that the Beijing event, being held at 9 a.m. Beijing time, is only eight hours after the California event.

--------------------

Monday, September 2, 2013

Incompetence in computer programming #1

This is 2013 but I still run into incompetent computer programming as if it were 1995 (the heyday of Microsoft and the sloppy coding practices that it both embraced and provided as a bad example to others). Here are four examples.

--------------------

Minnesota Public Radio: I wanted to make a nice comment about Corky Miller on this story published in 2005. On Aug. 10, I duly filled out the information and wrote a comment but when I clicked on "Post", I got this error: "Comments are not allowed on this entry."


MPR, if you're not going to allow comments on this story, then let me know on the article page, not as an error after I try to post!

--------------------

Apple: On Aug. 18, using Apple's own browser, Safari, on a Macintosh, this is what I saw at this page:


Yes, I have reported the error to Apple but no fix yet.

--------------------

Employee portal error: A certain Cincinnati employer (which I am not going to name) provides a portal for its employees to show their availability to work. Recently, I saw this error:


The error, in case you can't read it, is: "The following request error has occurred: String or binary data would be truncated. The statement has been terminated." The same error occurred in three different browsers, two on Macintosh and one on Windows so I'm concluding it happened on the server. I was told later what the error should have been: "Changes to availability must be submitted before the deadline. The deadline for start date 9/8/2013 is midnight Sunday 9/1/2013."

--------------------

Kenmore: This is a picture of the front of a 5,000 btu/hr. Kenmore air conditioner. The rightmost light is telling me that the filter needs to be cleaned. But the filter was cleaned several days ago and really doesn't need to be cleaned again. The incompetent computer programming: You can only reset the filter timer if the light is on. So when I pushed the button to reset the timer after cleaning the filter with the light out, nothing happened. Only now that the light is on can I reset the timer.


--------------------

That's all for now. I will add more posts as I run across ICP.

Trade in my iPhone 4S? Not yet

Although I am a long-time Apple supporter (my wife's Apple //e is still in the closet), my first iPhone was an iPhone 4S on Verizon. (Part of the reason I waited is that I didn't want to leave Verizon.) With the announcement of Apple's trade-in program (which just adds to the existing trade-in options) and the expected announcement of the iPhone 5S, you might thing I would be thinking of upgrading. Nope.

I'm old school when it comes to cell phones. Back before smart phones, I would typically get a new phone every three years with a two year contract. Some of the feature phones were not built to last three years and I remember replacing my Motorola Razr before three years because the keypad wore out.

I'm looking forward to iOS 7 which will give my phone a new look along with new features.

I'm going to hang on to the 4S until Apple no longer supports it with the latest operating system OR a new iPhone comes out with a feature that I just have to have. It could be a while.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's easier to illegally buy an assault rifle than it is to legally vote

"But a great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon." - Bill Clinton, Aug. 28.

Contrast that to this news item: A white supremacist felon arrested for selling counterfeit NFL jerseys was found to have 18 guns, including assault rifles, and 45,000 rounds of ammunition that the investigators had no idea that he had. Of course, as a convicted felon, he is not allowed to own firearms but there is no way to stop him from buying them. This story is from The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio).

The title: I have to show a driver's license to register to vote and every time I actually vote (even though my signature matches the signature printed in the registration book) but I don't need any identification to buy an assault rifle from a private party.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

When you're running for Cincinnati City Council, who cares where you park the RV?

When you're running for Cincinnati City Council, you should make sure your staffers know to obey the law. What you are seeing is Wendell Young's campaign RV not only illegally parked in a bike lane, set up by the City of Cincinnati, but also illegally parked at a bus stop. Soon after I took this picture, a 43 bus came roaring by but fortunately didn't need to stop here. What does this mean about Young's position on bicycles and busses? I'll let you decide.

This picture was taken about noon today on Mitchell between Vine and Reading. I sent an email to Young's campaign email address asking for a response but have not received one at this time.


Update Nov. 9: Mr. Young did win re-election to Cincinnati City Council.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Steve Ballmer: Dragging MSFT down by $20 billion

We knew that Steve Ballmer was dragging down Microsoft, but now we have a value on it. He announced his retirement today and MSFT went up $2.37 per share today. With 8.33 billion shares outstanding, he's been dragging the stock down by almost $20 billion.

Sorry, Steve, about the dissing by Wall Street but at least your stock and options will have appreciated too.

When someone posts a chart showing the performance of Microsoft's stock under Ballmer's tenure, I'll link to it. I'm not expecting much gain, if any. Bloomberg has given us some numbers: "An investment of $1,000 when Ballmer took over is now worth 13 percent less, including dividend returns, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Since Microsoft’s 1986 initial public offering through the end of the Gates era, $1,000 turned into $554,464."

Here's a Fortune article on this, written before the market closed: Steve Ballmer: The $16 billion drag on Microsoft.

Updated Aug. 24: Added quote from Bloomberg.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Using counterfeit or knockoff chargers

Using a third-party or counterfeit charger for your iPod, iPhone or iPad can be dangerous. Recently, there have been reports from China of one person being electrocuted and one being shocked and now in a coma by counterfeit or third-party chargers.

In response, Apple will now sell you one new, genuine charger for your Apple device for $10 (or the local equivalent outside the U.S.) in replacement for an existing charger, genuine or not, that you turn into them for disposal. (Apple is not going to make any attempt at the store to determine if your existing charger is a genuine Apple device, a counterfeit Apple device or a third-party device.)

For more information, click on this link.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bob Evans: Does this breakfast come with insulin?

Three problems with this coupon offer: I'm a working man and, if I eat out for breakfast, I eat by myself. Second, this is way too many carbohydrates. Third, show me the protein! I try to limit my carbs to 60 per meal and include some protein (typically, eggs or cottage cheese for breakfast). Sorry, your offer doesn't work for me.

Bob Evans' BOGO deal sans coupon

Friday, August 9, 2013

Math problem one solution: The Time Clock Problem

On July 24, I posed a math problem based on a real-life situation. In summary, here is the problem: If you have a group of 200 employees, what is the probability that two or more employees have the same last four digits in their Social Security numbers? When my son heard this problem, he immediately said, "That sounds like the birthday problem!" He's right. The birthday problem can be stated this way: If you have 23 people in a room, none of them was born on February 29 and you assume that birthdays are evenly distributed throughout the year (which we know is not true) what is the chance that two of the people share the same birthday? The answer turns out to be about one out of two, or 50.7%.

The birthday problem and the solution to it is discussed in Wikipedia. They point out that it is actually easier to solve the opposite problem. What is the probability that the 23 people have unique birthdays? Once you calculate that, you can take one minus that probability to get the change that at least two of the 23 people have the same birthday (as there could be more than two).

The solution to our problem actually is more accurate than the solution to the birthday problem because the last four digits of a person's Social Security Number are more likely to be randomly distributed among the 9,999 possibilities (0000 is not used).

Using the Wikipedia article, here is a solution. We are also going to figure the probability that all 200 employees have a unique combination of the last four digits of their Social Security Numbers. That probability is

P(200') = 9999/9999 * 9998/9999 * 9997/9999 * ... * 9802/9999 * 9801/9999 * 9800/9999

where ... indicates many more terms in the equation. I calculated this number using a spreadsheet with 15 digits of precision and got this result:

P(200') = .134853157876989 or about 13.5%.

This means that there is only a 13.5% probability that all 200 employees have different values for the last four digits of their Social Security Numbers. Taking 

P(200) = 1 - P(200')

means that there is a 86.5% probability that two or more employees have the same four digits. So the answer to the math problem is about 86.5%.

With that high of a probability, the employer must have a way of assigning alternate numbers to a few employees.

Updated Aug. 23: I renamed this post from "A solution to the math problem" to "Math problem one solution: The Time Clock Problem." Does this mean that there will be additional problems? You bet! But the next one is complicated enough that I'm going to solve it before I post it. That way, I can post the solution the next day. The common theme of these problems: These are problems that occur in real life.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The tipping policy in Bruce's world

Here are my tipping policies. For some reason, I almost always get good service in restaurants. It may be because they have some way of sensing that I'm a good tipper or that I go to the same restaurants and they recognize me. I sense that some restaurants are especially nice to people they haven't seen before because they want the people to come back.

Restaurants
I take the total before tax, round up to the nearest $5 and take 20% of that (an easy calculation). At buffet restaurants, I typically tip 10%.

The minimum tip is $2 per person. Many restaurants are trying to keep lunch costs down and I can eat lunch for $6 at a restaurant (trick: get water to drink; soft drink prices are outrageous and iced tea is ever worse).

I don't drink so I don't know what the rule is for alcoholic beverages. When I'm paying for other's drinks, I believe I have kept the 20% rule but trimmed the amount a bit.

Sometimes I order carryout for another person along with my meal. If I do this, I tip on the carryout amount as well. The servers I have worked with go overboard to make sure that the carryout meal is correct and brought to the table at the right time.

If I use a gift card or receive a major discount, I disregard that when paying the tip (i.e. I tip on the full amount before the gift card or discount). This would also apply to a meal purchased with a Groupon deal.

I don't mind if my server has to share tips with the busboy but if a restaurant has tip pooling or a similar system and I hear about it, I will no longer patronize that restaurant. My tip is intended to be a payment to my specific server.

If I receive bad food or service, most of the time it isn't the server's fault. I sometimes reduce the tip but usually I will avoid patronizing that restaurant for a while. I rarely complain to the manager; I just move on.

I saw a post on Facebook recently about the sad life of a server and why she really needed tips. This is not my concern and I really don't want to know about my server's personal life. My tip is not done out of sympathy, it is a reward for good service. I tip the same whether my server is a millionaire or on food stamps.

If you can't afford the tip, don't patronize the restaurant. Go to a less expensive restaurant or to a fast-food place. Or, radical idea, go to a grocery store and fix your own meal. I remember paying a $30 tip at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse but the service, food and view were impeccable. I was happy to pay it.

Riverboat cruise with dinner
I usually tip 10% of the meal cost (buffet rule). If there is a live piano player, I usually tip him a dollar or two.

Hotels and motels
My room rate is typically less than $100 per night. I tip $3 per day including the last day to the cleaning folks. I have found that I need to put a note next to the tip; one day, I just left $3 on the table and it was still there that night.

Valet parking
I avoid valet parking like the plague. It's just a habit of the rich that I prefer to avoid. If I did use valet parking, I would tip $2. Many years ago, I would have tipped a dollar, but I like to adjust for inflation.

Ballpark or Football Stadium
If I get an usher who insists on wiping down my already clean seat, I tip a dollar. I put the dollar in my side pocket ahead of time so it's not so obvious that I'm tipping.

Movers
On a recent move that took two hours, I tipped $5 per person. I made sure each person got his $5; I didn't want the driver pocketing everyone's tip.

Mechanic or Tow Truck Driver
I don't tip these folks. I wonder if the tow truck driver is already ripping me off so I'm not going to tip him. Usually, the driver is just happy that I'm not yelling at him; you would not believe the abuse they get when they're just trying to help you.

Taxi Cab
I took a taxi a couple of years ago in Chicago with three other people for just a few blocks. There is a charge on the meter for extra people but the driver put in four instead of the correct three. He only cheated himself as I had already planned to pay him $10. I don't take cabs much so I'm not an expert here.

Barber
I have been going to the same barber for over 20 years. When I first started with him, he was less expensive than my previous barber, so I tipped him $2. I have tipped him $2 ever since and now he is even less expensive than Great Clips. He also owns the shop and supposedly you're not supposed to tip the owner, but I don't care.

Restrooms
In the South, I have used restrooms with attendants. Sorry, I don't tip to pee.

Anything I've missed?



Comparison shopping: Meijer vs. PetSmart


Our household has four cats and, of course, they eat, pee and poop. So every few weeks, I make a run for cat food and kitty litter. General grocery stores, like Meijer® and Kroger®, are going after this pet business in competition with traditional pet stores, such as PetSmart® and Petco®. Today, I'm going to do some direct comparison shopping with a PetSmart $5 coupon in hand. Normally, I only buy one bag of food and two buckets of litter but today I went for the higher quantity. The clumping litter uses more litter per week but it keeps the litter box fresher; I only change the litter boxes about twice per year.

ProductSizeUPC Code
Purina Naturals Cat Chow13 lb. bag0 17800 14500 8
Purina Tidy Cats Scoop Instant Action35 lb. bucket0 70230 10785 5


ProductQuantityMeijer PriceMeijer CostPetSmart PricePetSmart Cost
Cat Chow2 bags$12.99$25.98$17.58$35.16
Cat Scoop4 buckets$12.99$51.96$13.99 or $11.99 with PetPerks card$47.96
Subtotal$77.94$83.12
PetSmart coupon$5.00
Total before tax$77.94$78.12

With the coupon, PetSmart would have been less expensive had I bought the normal quantity of one bag of food and two buckets of litter. By doubling the quantity, Meijer is actually less expensive but I bought the food and litter at PetSmart anyway and used the coupon.

Update Aug. 18: I improved the wording of the last paragraph.

Remove the links to articles behind a paywall

To the Team Stream app team:

The Cincinnati Reds articles in the Dayton Daily News that Hal McCoy is tweeting about are behind a paywall and need to be removed. I have mentioned this before to no avail. This is the last notice. If this is not fixed by Monday, Aug. 19, I will remove Team Stream from my phone.

Bruce Hobbs
Norwood, Ohio, USA

Sent from my iPhone 4S.

(Edited to show that the source is Hal McCoy's tweets. They need to either tell Hal McCoy to not tweet about articles behind the paywall or remove Hal's tweets altogether. It's Team Stream's app, not mine, and it's not my job to check the content. No, I'm not going to pay for the Dayton Daily News. It's a fine newspaper, but I'm just not going to pay for it.)

Update Aug. 18: It appears that they've listened to us users. The one reference today to the Dayton Daily News has public access. I will be keeping the Team Stream app on my phone. Success!

Update Aug. 20: I celebrated too soon. The tweets from "Hal" (probably done by someone else under his name) are back linking to stories behind the paywall. But instead of removing Team Stream from my phone, I've just unselected the Cincinnati Reds from Team Stream. I will get my Reds information other ways.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I'm tired of "sex with pit bull"

Fox 19's web site, like many news sites, has suggested articles at the bottom of their news pages. However, someone at Fox 19 is apparently obsessed with having sex with pit bulls. A reference to that story has been running for over a month now.


Fox 19, can you find a more appropriate selection of local stories to highlight or are you going for the sleazy viewers on the Internet?

Update Aug. 8: Good news, bad news. The story about the pit bull is gone, but the replacements are no better than the originals:


Do I really want to read about a teenager being raped in June? (Note that this screen snippet is from August.)

Update Aug. 9: It looks like I updated too soon. The woman and her friendly pit bull are back along with a father and daughter in an incestuous relationship:


At least now it's clear that this is provided by a service.

Update Aug. 18: I have won this battle. I installed AdBlock for Chrome, Safari and Opera on my Safari browser and below is the current result. AdBlock has two modes, which are combined by default: You can use a list of advertising web sites that should be blocked or you can train it to block specific ads. I turned off the lists and am just using the training. That way the normal, reasonable ads show up while I can block the ads mentioning sex with pit bulls in Las Vegas. (Whatever happened to "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?")



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Seven months since leaving Slashdot

At the end of December 2012, I left Slashdot. Cold turkey, no more reading, no more story submittals, no more comment moderation. I had good karma and I have no idea what they did with it. Like others, I posted under a handle so you won't find my contributions without working at it.

In case you are not familiar with Slashdot, it "is a technology-related news website owned by the US-based company Dice Holdings, Inc. The site, which bills itself as 'News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters,' features user-submitted and evaluated news stories about science and technology related topics." (Source: Wikipedia)

I left for four reasons: I have better sources for "News for Nerds," they refused to track a story back to its original source, the editing of stories was atrocious and I got tired of the stupid comments. Let me expound on these.

Better sources: I have several blogs and other news sources for my tech news. As a whole, they are faster and have better reporting and editing than Slashdot. One of the last straws in December was when Slashdot posted a story that I had read elsewhere two days earlier.

Original source: Slashdot relied on reader-submitted stories. While there is some original reporting on the Internet, many news sites simply scrape and rewrite content from the originators. How many times have you read a story in a major media source and realize that it was written by the Associated Press? The readers who submitted content rarely took the effort to track the story back to its roots, something I always try to do on this blog. This resulted in incorrect information and incomplete stories.

Sometimes, they had ridiculous situations where an Australian news publication was used a source for a United States story. It also resulted in a couple of cases where someone was able to sneak through a story that was a couple of years old.

Atrocious editing: Readers are nerds and their submissions need editing. This didn't happen as much as it should have. Ranging from misspelled words and wrong word usage to summaries that totally misrepresented the stories, this got really obnoxious after a while. Also, the problems listed in "Original source" were passed right on through by the editors.

Stupid comments: Every blog or other site that allows comments has to have a way to deal with stupid ones. Slashdot had an excellent moderation system that used people like me with good karma to keep the stupid comments in line. It was just too much work and there was just too much stupidity to deal with.

I really have a problem with tech people who work exclusively in a Wintel world (Windows + Intel) world and have no clue that there's other worlds out there that have nothing to do with Microsoft or Intel. They would be amazed to know that there are servers out there that don't run any antivirus software and yet are not vulnerable to malware!

Last year, I was wasting too much time cussing at stories and comments on Slashdot. Now I have that time back to do other things, like write this blog.

Updated Aug. 9: Replaced "stupid commenters" with "stupid comments." I really shouldn't call people stupid. People aren't stupid, they just do stupid things, like post stupid comments. As Forrest Gump's mother used to say, "Stupid is as stupid does."